Drunk driving charges are always serious, but DUI / DWIs that result in death can have lifelong consequences for the driver. Drinking and driving episodes that result in death are nearly always charged as felonies, and carry the possibility of a state prison sentence. Drunk driving deaths are typically charged in one of three ways – second-degree murder, vehicular homicide, or manslaughter.
Manslaughter is defined as the killing of another person without intent, but with the knowledge that an individual’s actions are likely to cause death – also defined as criminal negligence. Although drunk drivers don’t intend to cause death, prosecutors argue that the driver knew that his or actions were dangerous, particularly if the individual has prior DUI / DWI convictions.
Because police and prosecutors will look for any evidence that points to the defendant’s guilt, it’s crucial to have independent investigators examine the facts of the case on the defendant’s behalf. An attorney who focuses on drunk driving defense will employ independent experts to reconstruct the accident to uncover information that can be useful to the defense.
Independent experts also will analyze factors of the underlying DUI charge, such as the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). Because chemical tests usually take place hours after an accident, the driver’s BAC may have been inaccurate if his or her body continued to absorb alcohol after the crash. An independent expert may be able to show that the driver’s BAC was not above the legal limit at the time of the accident.
A drunk driving death can have life-altering repercussions for the motorist, so it’s imperative to have excellent legal counsel. An experienced California DUI / DWI lawyer can fight the charges aggressively to ensure that consequences are kept to a minimum.